About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture sector in the Latrobe-Gippsland region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.
The Latrobe-Gippsland region of Victoria is located in the eastern corner of the state. The region comprises the six local government areas of Bass Coast, Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe, South Gippsland and Wellington, and the major regional centres of Bairnsdale, Sale and Traralgon. The region covers a total area of around 41,557 square kilometres or 18.27 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 279,400 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Latrobe-Gippsland region occupies 11,700 square kilometres, or 28 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 11,700 square kilometres. The most common land use by area is production forestry, which occupies 14,200 square kilometres or 34 per cent of the Latrobe-Gippsland region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2018 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 129,700 people were employed in the Latrobe-Gippsland region. The region accounts for 4 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 12 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 18,500 people, followed by construction with 16,600 people, and education and training with 12,000 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were agriculture, forestry and fishing; retail trade; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 11,700 people, representing 9 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the Latrobe-Gippsland region was $1.7 billion, which was 12 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($14 billion).
The most important commodities in the Latrobe-Gippsland region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($592 million), followed by cattle and calves ($525 million) and sheep and lambs ($80 million). These commodities together contributed 70 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2016–17 the Latrobe-Gippsland region accounted for 98 per cent ($22 million) of the total value of Victoria's sweet corn production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 3,693 farms in the Latrobe-Gippsland region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 17 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Latrobe-Gippsland region, 2016–17
|Industry classification||Latrobe-Gippsland region||Victoria|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||1,855||50.2||5,642||32.9|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||1,146||31.0||3,928||29.2|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||202||5.5||1,283||15.8|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||123||3.3||2,795||4.4|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||81||2.2||513||15.8|
|Other Crop Growing nec||74||2.0||265||27.8|
Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown.
nec Not elsewhere classified.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (1,855 farms) were the most common, accounting for 50 per cent of all farms in the Latrobe-Gippsland region, and 33 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Victoria.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 32 per cent of farms in the Latrobe-Gippsland region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 6 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 30 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 73 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Latrobe-Gippsland region in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.
The Latrobe-Gippsland region contains a significant seafood industry. The area includes a wild–catch sector with the main landing and home port being Lakes Entrance. There is also some aquaculture, particularly offshore mussel farms in Westernport Bay. The main wild-caught species harvested in the area include southern rock lobster, abalone, snapper, southern calamari, gould's squid, King George whiting and mussels. Abalone wild-harvest occurs along the coastline primarily in the bay and inlet fisheries, in particular in the Corner Inlet and the Gippsland Lakes. The high value commercial snapper fishery is mostly located in Western Port Bay with incidental catches taken in the Corner Inlet and the Gippsland Lakes. The Gippsland Lakes, Western Port Bay, Lakes Entrance and Corner Inlet are also important areas for both recreational and commercial catch of a range of species, including black bream, southern calamari short finned eel fish, and King George whiting.
In the 2000 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, this region recorded a participation rate of 22.9 per cent, much higher than the state average of 12.7 per cent (Henry & Lyle 2003). Latrobe – Gippsland residents fish in marine and estuarine waters from Western Port Bay to the NSW border. Corner Inlet, Gippsland Lakes and the Snowy River are popular fishing locations. Flathead, black bream, mullet, Australian salmon, King George whiting and blue mussels are the most common marine species targeted by fishers. In inland lakes and freshwater reaches of rivers, redfin, trout and carp are popular target species. Overall, fishing from the shore is the most popular way that residents access the fishery, but boat fishing is significant, accounting for 40 per cent of the recreational fishing effort in the region.
In 2015–16 the gross value of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $86 million, a decrease of 3 per cent ($2.4 million) from 2014–15. Victoria contributed 3 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 68 per cent ($57.8 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 32 per cent ($27.6 million).
Victoria's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products—abalone and Southern rock lobster—which account for 34 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the last decade the real value of Victoria's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 42 per cent to $57.8 million in 2015–16.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is wild—caught abalone, falling by 70 per cent to $19.7 million in 2015–16. This is largely attributable to the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis disease which has significantly reduced abalone production in the Victorian wild–catch sector in recent years. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production.
Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.
In 2015–16 the volume of Victoria's aquaculture production was 2,670 tonnes. Salmonids, blue mussels and abalone accounted for 50 per cent, 29 per cent and 12 per cent respectively of this volume and 40 per cent, 12 per cent and 40 per cent respectively of the total value of Victorian aquaculture production in 2015–16.
In 2015–16, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $193 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include abalone and Southern rock lobster. Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 53 per cent, 14 per cent and 7 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (6 per cent) and China (4 per cent).
Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In the national survey of recreational fishers undertaken in the early 2000s it was found that Victoria had approximately 550,000 recreational fishers that fished in the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 12.7 per cent of Victoria's population (Henry & Lyle 2003). This includes gamefishing for species such as southern bluefin tuna (Green et al 2012). Recreational fishing also includes diving for Southern rock lobster, abalone, and scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of finfish species, such as snapper, King George whiting, black bream and flathead. Freshwater anglers target rainbow and brown trout, as well as native freshwater fish.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Latrobe – Gippsland region was 97,600 hectares, comprised of 33,000 hectares of hardwood plantations and 63,800 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 2.7 million hectares of native forests in the Latrobe – Gippsland region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (1.3 million hectares), Eucalypt tall open (777,000 hectares) and Eucalypt medium woodland (318,400 hectares) forest types. The majority of the native forests were multiple-use public forests available for timber production (1.4 million hectares), while 898,600 hectares were in nature conservation reserves and 252,700 hectares were privately owned. Major timber processing industries are located at Maryvale, Nowa Nowa and Yarram.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Victoria was 423,000 hectares, comprised of 199,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 223,300 hectares of softwood plantations and 800 hectares of other plantations.
In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $112 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 2.8 million cubic metres valued at $ 194 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4 million cubic metres valued at $293 million.
The sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was estimated at $3.4 billion in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015−16.
In 2016, the Victorian forestry sector employed 16,713 workers (0.6 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 21,825 (0.9 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.
ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.
Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.